San Diego Business Journal

Local Cancer Researcher Motivated by Personal Loss

Advertorial: American Cancer Society Supplement By Kay Clark, American Cancer Society Monday, August 27, 2012

Scripps Institute researcher Vaughn Smider, M.D., Ph.D. is tireless in his quest – a breast cancer study funded by the American Cancer Society. He and his team of investigators are developing ways to insert ‘unnatural amino acids’ into proteins, which he hopes will give human antibodies new properties, allowing them to bind to or inactivate tumor targets far more effectively than normal antibodies. It is a novel approach which could provide new experimental drug candidates. And his novel approach is fueled in part by personal tragedy. Smider lost his wife to breast cancer and has been relentless in his pursuit since her passing.

“My wife was a wonderful woman, and an inspiration to our family and friends. I feel my study is yielding good information that one day will help other families defeat this disease. But it takes time, and resources; and these days financial resources are scarce for young scientists.”

“Junior faculty need this kind of funding,” Dr. Smider says, referring to the basic cancer research that 82 percent of American Cancer Society research dollars funds. These early studies, which are unlikely to be funded by other sources, have led to 46 Nobel Prizes. “Our work is a good example of how basic research can translate to clinical impact,” he explains.

Research is at the heart of the American Cancer Society’s mission. For more than 60 years, the Society has been finding answers that save lives – from changes in lifestyle to new approaches in therapies to improving cancer patients’ quality-of-life. No single nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization in the U.S. has invested more to find the causes and cures of cancer than the American Cancer Society. The Society relentlessly pursues answers that help understand how to prevent, detect, and treat all cancer types.

The Society focuses its funding on investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed proposals. This process ensures that scientists propose projects that they believe are ready to be tackled with the available knowledge and techniques, rather than working on projects designed by administrators who are far removed from the front lines of research. This intellectual freedom encourages discovery in areas that scientists believe are most likely to solve the problems of cancer.

By combining the world’s best and brightest researchers, with the world’s largest, oldest, and most effective community-based anti-cancer organization, answers are put into action. To learn more about the Society’s research program visit www.cancer.org/research.